"Even if we win the rat race; we're still a rat." - Lily Tomlin
Is it possible to "lean in" so far you fall over?
Like many of my female colleagues, I started leaning in in 8th grade when I ran for student body president.
Many of us haven't stopped running since. We run the office or our own business. We run a house full of kids. We run the PTA, charity auction and neighborhood board. We run to keep up, to stay ahead.
We have been running so fast for so long, it's become a default.
Last week, Tara D. Sonenshine pointed out the consequences of women whose M.O. has been to go, go, go in her intriguing Washington Post article, Why I'm Leaning Out.
I hear you. I am woman; hear me... snore.
Running has served us. We've cracked the glass ceiling, proved we deserve a seat at the table and showed we have a lot to offer as moms, leaders and visionaries.
Now? As Tara advises, it's time to take a break. Time to take a deep breath.
I've never considered myself a workaholic, even though I work pretty much seven days a week. I love my work, so it's not work, right?
Well yeah, it is.
Being productive, (my preferred word), has been a non-negotiable. It's satisfying to come to the end of the day and know you've contributed, that there's tangible evidence you're making a difference.
Yet, one of the wisest things I've learned is that our strength taken to an extreme can become our Achilles Hell. (Uhhh... Achilles Heel?)
Being productive is rewarding. But it comes at a cost.
My worn-out body finally did what it had to do to get my attention. I got sick. Really sick.
As in antibiotic, can't-bounce-back sick where I didn't feel better after a "good night's sleep." As in worn-out "kept-getting-worse" sick.
After asking my family doctor (who's also a long-time friend) if I could still honor my cross-country commitments later that week, she looked at me as if I were crazy.
"You're not hearing me. I know you don't like to think about your age, but you're over 60. Anytime you're over 60 and you're sick for more than two weeks, it means your immune system is seriously compromised. You're running on empty. You need to rest."
REST?! As in "not do anything?" That's alien to how I operate.
Thank heaven my physician persisted, "Sam, if you don't do the opposite of your always, you'll get worse. Is that what you want?"
No. That's not what I want. I want to get better. I want to be healthy.
"Then," she told me, "Get out your calendar right now and schedule in days of REST."
For whatever reason, that concept of REST still doesn't resonate with me. It feels way too passive; however I have scheduled in RECHARGE DAYS.
RECHARGE DAYS are where I do the opposite of my always.
Even though I love to write, speak and coach, that means no writing, speaking or coaching that day. No activities that require intense focused energy. No appointments where my brain has to be on fire because people are paying for brilliance.
Nothing that drains energy; only things that restore energy. Leisurely strolls along the lake. No purposeful power-walking allowed. Basking in the sun. Petting dog meditations. Connecting with loved ones via non-rushed phone calls. No social media.
Aaahhh. This is what my body, mind and soul have been craving. A contrast to the last (gulp) 50 years of getting things done, every single day.
How about you? What's your always? Are you ready to stop running and start replenishing?
Let this, rather than a trip to Urgent Care, be your wake-up call. Schedule in your RECHARGE DAYS now, so you and everyone around you, can reap the rewards of a refreshed, re-energized you.
Sam Horn, Intrigue Expert and author of What's Holding You Back? helps people craft high-stakes communications that get results (i.e., TED talks, investor pitches, keynotes, quality books) ... when she's not recharging. For more information, visit The Intrigue Agency online at www.IntrigueAgency.com.